- Modern classic good looks
- Opulent interior
- Hugely powerful engine
- King of the road feeling
- Massive price tag
- Poor gas mileage
- Huge size
The 2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith and Dawn are big, heavy cars that coddle their occupants with comfort, luxury, and unmistakable style.
The 2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe and Dawn convertible deftly blend modern technology with traditional craftsmanship without making excuses for their lavish excess. All of this performance and luxury doesn't come cheaply, though: options can easily add tens of thousands of dollars to base prices in excess of $300,000.
We give the Rolls-Royce Wraith a 7.4 out of 10 for its blend of stately looks, effortless power, and high-end interior ambience. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Just over a decade ago designer Marek Djordjevic established a new design vocabulary for Rolls-Royce, and the Wraith and Dawn, as well as their Ghost sedan stablemate, share its elegantly muscular look. It's defined by rectangular headlights on either side of a simple-but-bold grille, slab sides, and a bluff, neatly sculpted tail. The design lends itself to the two-tone paint schemes used by Rolls-Royce for most of its history. There isn't much precedent, however, for the Wraith's fastback styling—sportier coachwork usually graced Bentleys—but the retro-inspired slope looks good from most angles. The Dawn's soft-top doesn't stretch back as far as the Wraith's roof, conforming instead to the lines of a more traditional convertible coupe.
Rear-hinged doors (Rolls-Royce understandably calls these "coach" rather than "suicide") also give a nod to the past, but add the functional purpose of aiding more dignified entry and exit. While the length of both cars stretches past 17 feet, excellent proportions mask their actual size.
Like the Ghost, the Wraith and Dawn are built on a variant of the BMW 7-Series platform, but this relationship won't be apparent to most drivers or observers. A 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 powers both cars. It is rated at 624 horsepower in the Wraith, and it propels all 5,203 pounds to 60 mph in a swift 4.4 seconds. In the Dawn, the V-12 produces 563 horsepower, resulting in a 4.9-second 0 to 60 mph time. Power is smooth and effortless, and both cars will charge all the way up to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.
An innovative ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission uses GPS and terrain data to pre-select ideal gears for smoother performance through sharp turns, hills, and dales. Twenty-inch wheels are standard, while 21-inchers are optional. A stately ride quality is as much a Rolls-Royce trait as the Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet, and it's achieved with an electronically controlled air suspension. This all contributes to the dynamic "waftability" that Rolls-Royce wants to achieve in its cars.
The ride is sublime in the coupe or the convertible. Though doggedly smooth, swells and undulations can make the ride floaty, but never abrupt, and cause a bit of head bob. There is also some nosedive when coming to a stop. With their 5,200-plus-pound curb weights, the Wraith and Dawn desperately want to keel over in turns, but they are fitted with active roll bars and air springs that conspire to keep them relatively upright. You can feel these components at work in sharp turns.
Rolls-Royce has always turned out top-notch interiors, and the Wraith and Dawn don't disappoint. Rich, soft leather, finely crafted woods, and machined metal trim elements surround occupants in all four seats. Buyers who are willing to wait for a special order can ask for almost anything, even if it's not on an option list that already includes plenty of outré features like a fiber-optic light roof lighting system that mimics a star-filled night sky. Those who prefer to gaze at the real stars may specify a fixed glass roof with a leather sun blind in the Wraith or just go topless with the Dawn.
Crash safety is untested, but here, the mass of these cars works in their favor, as does Rolls-Royce's very solid construction and inclusion of standard safety equipment like force-limiting seat belts, smart airbags that adjust to occupant size, and the Advanced Crash Management system, which uses sensors to take 2,000 measurements per second, and, in the event of an accident, to deploy the appropriate pre-emptive safety measures.
As always, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.
When it comes to fuel economy, neither car can escape the facts that they are potent and massive. The EPA estimates gas mileage at 12 mpg city, 19 highway, 15 combined for the Wraith and 12/19/14 mpg for the Dawn.